When Daniel Murphy was named to his first MLB All-Star team this past week, it marked a high point in a season that has been a bit tumultuous away from the field for the Mets second baseman. From public criticism for missing Opening Day while on paternity leave, to rampant trade rumors, Murph has been an undeserving target of the fan base and media through the Mets first half struggles.
As the Mets near the All-Star Break, Murph has been far and away the most consistent Met hitter, batting .294 with seven homers and 37 RBI through 91 games, the most played by any position player on the ballclub. However, being named to the All-Star team means Murphy's stock has never been higher and with the Trade Deadline just three weeks away, his name will be thrown around a lot as contenders look to add pieces like him to make that last push towards playoffs.
With the 29-year old arbitration eligible again this Winter and in need of a contract, the Mets have to entertain any reasonable offers but as I recently discussed, it's not imperative that the Mets make a move. Finding another second baseman who ranks in the top-10 in average and RBI is no easy task and with the Mets best prospects at the position still at least one to two years away from being MLB ready, Murph would be a huge asset should the team look to contend next year.
The Mets' best prospect at second base in the minor leagues is Dilson Herrera, who was acquired in the Marlon Byrd trade last season. Herrera recently got promoted to AA Binghamton and is hitting .313 with two home runs and 16 RBI's in three weeks with the B-Mets. While Herrera has been impressive in his climb through the system, he likely needs at least another year of seasoning before he reaches the big league level.
Murphy is arbitration eligible for one last time after this season, where he is projected to earn about nine million dollars in 2015. Murphy would then become a free agent after the season, and the going rate for a second baseman with Murphy's numbers would be somewhere in the range of a four year, 48 million dollar contract. While re-signing Murphy seems like it should be a no brainer, the finances of the Wilpons remain a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
Murphy has drawn interest from other teams, notably the Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants, but the Mets' asking price is reportedly very high. The Mets discussed a Murphy trade with the Baltimore Orioles in the offseason and asked for top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy in a deal, which the O's refused. The Mets would likely be looking for similar top minor league talent for Murphy, as they should, and if they get blown away they could deal Murphy away at the deadline. Dealing Murphy would also open second base for Wilmer Flores to get at bats with the big club.
If the Mets are really serious about contending, they should negotiate an extension with Murphy. Murph has proven he can be a clutch performer in New York, and he plays a capable second base. With the Mets a couple of position players and a healthy Matt Harvey away from contending, this is not the time to be subtracting a possible core piece from the puzzle. While Murphy may have a lot of value on the open market, he has even more value to the Mets.
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